The Southern Utah University Women’s Basketball team loves to keep fans on the edge of their seats. The team’s last four wins have come by an average of just 3.5 points.
Their last two victories have come down to overtime and the team has lost four games this season by six points or less.
Needless to say, these T-Birds have grown accustomed to playing close games.
The team ranks low in the Big Sky in offensive and defensive efficiency, but the T-Birds defend the three well and have the second-best turnover margin. Those two factors will keep the T-Birds in a lot of games late, but the squad needs to continue to execute down the stretch.
How are they going to do it?
Harley Hansen’s Search for Consistency
In SUU’s five wins this season, Harley Hansen has scored 95 points. In their nine losses, she’s scored 92. That’s an average difference of almost nine points per game.
Hansen has been huge for the T-Birds in key moments, but has disappeared when the team struggles. She’s a catch-and-shoot threat, but can also initiate the offense as needed a bit like Eric Gordon did for the Houston Rockets last season.
She needs to continue to up her efficiency and the offense should be geared toward manufacturing a few more open looks for her each game. Hansen has consistently shot the ball around fourteen times per contest, but the team has won every game she’s been at least 40 percent from the field. The T-Birds are hard to stop when Harley’s knocking down shots.
It’s Time to Rebound
SUU is allowing opponents to convert only 27 percent of their three-pointers (2nd in the Big Sky), but opponents are shooting 46 percent from the field overall (worst in the Big Sky). How are they so strong defending the three, but still allow teams to shoot the ball so well from the field?
Part of the reason is how the defense revolves around forcing turnovers, but the T-Birds give up far too many offensive rebounds. The team is last in the Big Sky in defensive rebounds per game.
Opposing teams miss an outside shot but get the rebound for an easy putback. Allowing rebounds comes down to hustle and anticipation. The T-Birds need to outwork their opponents, and they have been able to do that in crunch time.
The team leader in rebounds per game is 5’ 5” (as listed on team’s official website) point guard Rebecca Cardenas. The team needs to buckle down and pull down some boards.
Hannah Robbin’s injury and subsequent loss for the season is a hit to T-Bird rebounding. Ashley Larsen, Megan Kamps, Jessica Chatman and Kiana Thomas need to be vicious glass cleaners to improve the team’s defensive efficiency.
The T-Birds will be in action next on Thursday, January 17, against the Portland State Vikings. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. Mountain time (7 p.m. local time) at Viking Pavilion. They then play Saturday, January 19, at Sacramento State at 3 p.m. Mountain time (2 p.m. local time). Both games will be streamed live on PlutoTV (PSU channel 232 / SAC channel 233) and live stats will be available at tbirdstats.com.